Homeschooling: Why We Chose What We Did

When I first mentioned homeschooling to Jonathan, he was not very excited. He grew up in the Nazarene church, and homeschoolers were those kids in denim skirts and matching polo shirts who won the Bible quizzing bees, hands-down, every time. They didn’t know how to converse with anyone else and they certainly never even thought one uncheerful thought in their entire lives. They built robots and did chores, sang hymns and nothing else, and probably all of them snorted when they laughed, too.

However, Jonathan generally trusts me and my research, and what I’ve found is that homeschooling is the right choice for our family. We want to be the main influence on our kiddos’ developing attitudes, faith, and outlook on life. We want to bring them with us to train them in compassion and evangelism. We want to be free to GO DO STUFF as a family (we’re stoked for future missions work) as well as staying home and DOING STUFF as a family. Homeschooling is an easy choice for us to make. The hard part was deciding how to do it. Spoiler Alert: We chose the Charlotte Mason method, and the curriculum guide found at www.amblesideonline.com.

I originally thought I’d go the Classical route with curriculum and methodology. I thrive in that kind of high-achievement, goals-oriented environment. Give me a task and a timeline, and I’m good to go. But I know that’s not for everyone, and my kids aren’t me. So I wanted to make sure that at the very least, I considered other options. As I went through the vast world of homeschooling on the internet, I came across unschooling, unit studies, and several other approaches.

Unschooling appeals to me because it really allows parents to help their children seek out their passions and support them while they pursue everything pertaining to a particular area until their curiosity is satisfied and they can find something else to learn about. I like the depth of knowledge a child can develop about any number of subjects and trades. However, as my friend Julie so aptly put it, “I know my own sin nature and I know my children have sin natures.” Unschooling won’t work for me (at least right now) because I know I’d be a little on the lazy side, and it wouldn’t work for the kids right now because… well, they don’t seem to be that invested in anything except for Frozen and tractors. 🙂 Also, to be honest: I kind of need a schedule and an idea of where we’re going.

Unit studies are always fun because parents can teach all age groups at the same time and find cool ways to incorporate every subject area under one unifying theme. Families studying Egypt can learn about triangular prisms, deserts, rivers, mythology, art, zoology, technology, agriculture, Islam, astronomy, and even Joseph from the Bible. Imagine the projects that can be created and the inquisitive ideas and questions that can be elicited from the children! But as fun and exciting as unit studies sound, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the “how will I make sure we cover everything” question. Sure, we’d get a lot of math here and there, but math is something that I feel needs to be sequential and intentional. (I’m sure that anyone could say, “Well, just do math on its own! You can still do unit studies!”) Everything just seemed like I’d have to pull together an enormous amount of resources and do a TON of work every new unit. Blech.

There were other approaches which were kind of amalgams of each method. In fact, eclectic homeschooling gives parents freedom to pick and choose from any and all methods and curricula to piece together a homeschool experience that is unique to their own children. More power to them! I, however, don’t like to scramble for resources, and so I was looking for something that was more of a “package deal.”

The Charlotte Mason approach is kind of the last thing I’d normally choose. Like, if you had me and four other homeschool moms in a room and a set of five homeschool methodologies listed on posters on the wall, you would NEVER send me to the Charlotte Mason poster. It is SO different from anything I thought I’d ever be doing when teaching my kids, and it will definitely be a stretch for me.

Charlotte Mason was a schoolteacher in England in the late 1800s and she worked together with the parents of the kids in her schools to create a rich, nurturing, child-friendly environment for the children in her care. She emphasized quality reading material (no “twaddle”), Christ-centeredness, study of nature, observational skills, narration to check for understanding, and a general all-encompassing excellence. She outlined ways to build good habits in our children and ways for the children to quiet themselves to ponder a lesson, work of art, or wonder of nature. The phrase, “I am, I can, I ought, I will” sums up her philosophy briefly.

The Charlotte Mason method uses short lessons (plenty of freedom for children to play or to develop other skills each day). There is an emphasis on the children mastering many other skills, not just academic subjects. Books used are “living books,” those which have rich ideas and deep messages to consider, all wrapped in a package of beautiful verbiage and storytelling.

You guys. I’m not the flowery type. Charlotte Mason is flowery.

And that is the biggest reason I chose to use Charlotte Mason. I recognize areas of my life which need work. I need practice on my homemaking skills. I need to develop better habits of scripture memory and diligence. I need to read beautiful language and not just the language of the internet. I need to surround myself with God’s creation on a daily basis and to reflect on what he has made. I need to slow our lives down so we are always ready to receive company with open arms. I need to learn to appreciate beauty and simplicity and the loveliness of just being together with my own two beautiful children, day in and day out, without the stress of a super rigorous academic schedule. (Don’t get me wrong- Charlotte Mason is EXTREMELY rigorous as far as academics go; more rigorous than even the Classical curriculum I considered- just take a look at the list of books Hula Girl and I will be reading this year in my next post!) I need peace and quiet and time to cultivate beauty in my heart and home. So, Charlotte Mason wins.

I plan to post every day, mostly to keep family members updated on our progress. If you feel inclined to follow along on our journey, well, the more the merrier!

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7 Comments

  1. May 17, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    […] and done a bit of soul-searching and praying about what I really want to see out of all of this. In my last post, I described some of the options I considered, and how we ended up going with the Charlotte Mason […]

  2. May 17, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    sounds wonderful kim, excited for you! love your reasoning too, im sure it will be a rich experience for you all 🙂

  3. Courteney said,

    May 17, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    I am excited to see how it goes for you!

  4. May 20, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    This is such a great post/series! We still have a few years but from the (little) research I’ve done, Charlotte Mason is where I’m leaning as well. Everyone here does Classical Conversations, though, so I’m excited to follow your journey especially because from your post here and what I see on the Google group, I think our personalities are similar. I hope everything works out well for y’all in this new venture!

    • May 21, 2015 at 6:14 am

      Thanks, Emily! Classical Conversations is big where I am, too. But we also have a ton of homeschool families in the area, so I am friends with at least two other people who do CM, which is helpful! It’s always good to plan ahead, too, and you can start reading a lot of the Y0 books to your littles… 🙂


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